Six Tips for Managing the Criticism of Your Photos Well

Coyote in the snow in Yellowstone in winter.. Photograph in color by Amar Guillen, artist photographer.
Coyote in the snow in Yellowstone in winter.

Tip 1: Learn the Criteria Grid

If you are going to criticize photographs or if you have received criticism, I advise you to memorize the following five criteria.

The purpose of these five criteria is:

  • To better analyze others’ constructive criticism of your work.
  • To provide constructive feedback on others’ photos.

These criteria are simple, precise, and objective. They can be used for any photographic field.

  1. Technical criteria.

    This concerns sharpness, framing, composition, light management, print quality, and presentation.

    You may be surprised by the last two elements, but I believe that a photograph only exists from the moment it is printed on paper and presented with a support or in a frame.

  2. Subject.

    For this criterion, you must analyze the choice of the subject, its interest, originality, and treatment. You must look at how the staging of the photo was created. You must look at all the photographic elements chosen and their contribution to the main subject. This is what I often call the main photographic element.

  3. Search for creativity.

    A person who criticizes must be open-minded to new things. Above all, he or she must not refuse a new technical approach because it can conceal treasures of creativity. If it is a technique that has already been used or known, the critic must take it into account but give it less importance than if the technique is innovative.

  4. Expressive and artistic value of the photo.

    A photograph that only aims to show the technical virtuosity of the photographer is of absolutely no interest. An artistic or illustrative photograph can sometimes speak for itself. However, a title or a caption that places it in context can be remarkably interesting. In this case, the critic of the photograph must take it into account as an element in its own right. Personally, I give a lot of importance to these two elements. They allow me to better understand the author and the message he wanted to deliver.

  5. Personal appreciation.

    We are all human beings with a system of thought and emotions. We also have our personal tastes. A person who criticizes must integrate this criterion into his evaluation and judgment grid, but only to a limited extent. We each have different ages, different tastes, and different experiences. Personal appreciation is a highly fluctuating factor. It must only influence a small part of a critical review.

These five criteria will not only help you in your judgement but they will allow you to analyze others’ criticisms of your photos.

If a judge or a person criticizes you and these criteria do not correspond to the previous grid, disregard the remarks. Forget them because they are not based on an objective framework that is useful for you.

Tip 2: Find Out Who Is Criticizing You

This is an important point that you should not overlook. If you do not are unfamiliar with who your critics are, try to learn their names and discover what it is that they do, such as whether they are photographers or not, and try to determine if their reviews are valuable.

I have already noticed that many people become judges or critics without any experience. They do not realize how devastating their halo minute judgments can be on novice photographers who need serious and well justified advice.

If you cannot receive reference knowledge about the judges who are sharing their critical reviews, then do not submit your photos. You will learn nothing more valuable than that which you already knew.

Tip 3: Define Your Photographic Why

I have already touched on this subject in other articles, but it is essential. Your “photographic why”, that is the reason why you create and make photos, must be crystal clear. Try to define it precisely because, just like your photographic artistry, it allows you to create a shell behind which you will shelter when you get criticism.

It is possible that a criticism of your photographs may not be objective and may cause you pain. In this case, rethink your photographic why and take shelter behind it. You will quickly regain your confidence.

Tip 4: Focus On a Goal Rather Than Popularity

Once you have built your photographic why and your photographic artistry, you will have a solid foundation that will support your photographic activity.

But that is not enough to succeed.

To be successful, you must have a specific goal to achieve, whether that is to exhibit your work in a gallery, to win an international competition, or to publish a book. Anything you do with your photographs must serve only that purpose. You must do everything you can to achieve it.

I know that we live in an age where “liking” something has become a measure of self-esteem. I think this is a profoundly serious mistake. It is a popularity mark that means absolutely nothing. It has no value. People “like” something on social media in a mechanical way. A comment is much more interesting and important because it brings value.

To learn how to handle reviews of your photos, do not pay attention to likes because they will give you the illusion of having produced interesting photos that will not stand up to an honest and detailed review. Disillusionment could be terrible for you.

Tip 5: Set Goals Over Time

To reach a goal, time is not measured in weeks or months but in years. I know this from experience, as it took me 10 years to reach the goal I had set for myself. I did not think it would take that long, however some gallery owners told me that I had been a quick success because of my persistence and self-sacrifice. For some photographers, success only comes after 20 years of work.

So, to achieve a goal, it takes time. You need to establish specific goals for yourself over time. So, when you have reached a goal, you feel like you have progressed and reached a milestone.

By proceeding in this way, you will better manage criticism because you will take it coldly and without emotions. Indeed, you will have your goal and objectives in mind. You will be focused on what you have to do without considering the opinions of others.

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Tip 6: Be Yourself

This is the last piece of advice I will ever give you. It is just as important as the others. Do not forget that ultimately, you create photos for yourself.

If the criticisms you receive do not help you, then forget them. Ignore them. You are unique. You have your own personality. You are an exception. Be yourself and do what you want to do.

Personally, I submit my photographic work to many people because I love criticism. If I realize that the remarks that are made to me are unfounded or that they do not bring anything, I continue to move in the direction I have chosen.


I hope that this article will now help you to deal with the criticisms you had to face-both the good ones and the bad ones.

A good review is always interesting. Do not forget that a criticism that is addressed to you must encourage you to progress in your journey, and that it should come from a place of respect and kindness. Do not forget to do the same to others.

Not all reviews are interesting. Learn the five criteria I gave you in the evaluation grid. They will allow you to analyze whether a criticism about your photos is justified. They will also allow you to give your opinion on others’ photos. When you are in a position where you can appropriately provide feedback on others because you have learned from similar mistakes, then you can easily identify your growth in your photographic journey.

Be humble, patient, constant, persevering, and persistent because the road to excellence is long.

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